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“diminished expectations”

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The Westin Playa Bonita Panama
Ranked #9 of 117 Hotels in Panama City
Certificate of Excellence
Nelson BC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“diminished expectations”
Reviewed March 25, 2014

All of the physical plant is high class. The rooms are great, well designed and well furnished. The location is awesome and it has 5 top notch pools. So swimming in the ocean is not that critical, although the beach one basically has to oneself. The tide here goes out a long way, which makes for interesting exploring, and it exposes quite a lot of rock in front of the hotel that discourages swimming.
The staff are very friendly and all try to speak a limited amount of english, though they all appreciated our attempts at Spanish.
My main complaint was on the food pricing. I thought it was way too high for what we received, although all the restaurants are well designed and comfortable. And the wait times were a bit too long.
I was dismayed that at such a pricey property, there was only some cheap kayaks to use/rent and only on Friday. There were no bicycles to use/rent, nor any other sport/leisure time activity that one coud use. They need a walking path that could take a loop of some sort with some signage so one doesn't get lost, (which would be very difficult as the hotel can be seen from town). Perhaps that was because the hotel also owns the Gamboa Tour company, and they wanted you to use them for any off-property time-expenditure.
All the pool jockeys and servers were great. Kudos to them all

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled on business
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Jeff S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Islamabad
Level Contributor
46 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed March 24, 2014

The rooms were AMAZING. I got one facing the Pacific, and the big windows give an astounding view day and night -- at night you see all the ships wanting to go through the Canal start to que up so you can see their lights.. until morning when they start to move through the Canal.

The room was well appointed, with all the amenities of a five star and was HUGE with a nice balcony to sit outside and admire the ocean.

I stayed here 6 nights on account of a business conference that was held in the same hotel and had no complaints. The beach and pools area is really nice, though the beach is not very sunbather or swimmer friendly due to rocks on the beach. It was a nice long stretch to go running though.. but not the ultimate beach experience.

Since I was on a conference bulk room rate, it was very cost effective for me for the price - about USD 150 per night.

The hotel is a little far from downtown Panama city or the old city, and the only way to get out is to rent a car or call a taxi, which the hotel can easily do for guests. It is about USD 45 to the airport in a cab.

The checkin line was a little long upon arrival -- possibly since 300 other people were part of the conference so everyone was arriving at the time, but their check-in process could be speedier.. The same for checkout.

The giftshop is nice, albeit pricey, and I didn't end up making any purchases. Be sure to bring your own power converter plugs.. if your electronics need one, you'll have to get it from the shop as the hotel doesn't provide these.

The breakfast was amazing. Such a huge array of choices. I got to sample Panamian tropical fruits such as their juicy pineapples and tart passionfruits. There was also a waffle iron along with the host of breads, cheeses and other breakfast items.

The lunch buffet, whether at the indoor restaurant or the outdoor one, was also of a mindboggling variety.

Room Tip: Ask for an ocean facing room.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank zkhalid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Kelowna, Canada
Level Contributor
12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed March 23, 2014

Recently my husband & I stayed at the Westin Playa Bonita for a conference. I was concerned after reading some previous reviews and found that while some were quite accurate there were positives to our stay as well. Lets start with the not so great stuff.
- few of the staff speak passable English. I understand that Panama is a Spanish speaking country and part of the fun of travel is experiencing new things but the hotel advertises itself as having English speaking staff - not true.
- the buffet meals (breakfast, lunch) were not great and the same food everyday. As an example the breakfast "sausages" were in fact cut up hotdogs (as far as I could tell)
- the al la carte restaurants had extremely slow service. We had a meal with some friends one evening on site - over 1/2 hour to get a drink then another 1/2 hour to have our order taken. The women at the table noticed that the waiter (male) would respond to the requests from the men at the table but not to us.
- the pools were nice but way overcrowded. If you didn't go down before 7am to save a chair (a practice that I find so rude!) there were none left. The hotel needs to manage this better - either no saving chairs or an ability to book the cabanas.
- the hotel is in the middle of nowhere - at least 1/2 hour and a $25 cab ride to go anywhere
- the staff didn't seem terribly interested in being helpful - not actively rude...more just indifferent.
And the good stuff
- the rooms were nice with great ocean views (we were on the 12 floor ocean front) but the bathroom set up was a little odd - open to the bedroom with just a shade to close for privacy. Ok for us old married couples but would have been very awkward for families or friends sharing the room or a couple who are still in the stages of getting to know each other better. Also it was a very noisy hotel - we're pretty sure the people above us were moving furniture at all hours. Take earplugs
- the hotel public areas are beautiful - incredible light fixtures everywhere
- the spa was lovely
- the drinks were very !! strong - we watched the bartenders and they all free poured very freely - better than the usual wimpy resort cocktails but be careful.
If you need transportation call Quality Transportation Services - ask for Guibel - her English is better than mine and service was impeccable. www.panamaqualityservices.com
Be wary of Gamboa tours - we prebooked a car to take us to the airport as did most of the other people leaving Sat. morning - it was a zoo...no one seemed to know when cars were coming or for whom and then allowed whomever was the loudest & pushiest to take the next car that showed up. We also did a tour of the city with them - our guide didn't speak English (even though the tour was specifically set up for several bus loads of Canadians) so we saw some great things but don't know what they were, there was water on the bus but they forgot to give it out (38celcius that day)
Take insect repellent - everyone in our group got bitten a lot! and were left with very itchy bumps all over.
all in all an ok place to stay but I wouldn't go back.

Room Tip: book ocean view - great for watching the ships lined up to enter the canal.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank BACJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Melbourne, Florida
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed March 23, 2014

My wife and I recently spent 4 nights at the Westin - we loved the hotel and the people
We chose the special room and all meals plan. The buffet's were excellent, lots of variety and very tasteful. Our room was also excellent in every way.
Those that served us were friendly and helpful and yes sometimes we have to repeat ourselves but some people forget they are in a foreign country.
The grounds and the pool were immaculate.
We had a very friendly waitress name Irma Oporta - she went out of her way to serve us and help us learn some of her language. She made our day every morning.
We had no complaints about our stay and would love to go back some day

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank mbalmerfb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
abbotsford
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed March 22, 2014

We stayed here from Feb 22-March 5, 2014. The hotel is beautiful and well kept. I will list my pro's and con's of the hotel, staff, grounds, etc. I am a seasoned traveler and have experienced many hotels. The Westin, while beautiful, had issues that could easily have been fixed.

Pro's - rooms were lovely and big. Nice tub. Beautiful view of the ocean.
- food at both buffets were good most days. Some days better
than others.
- Both on site restaurants were pleasant.
- Staff in food area's were helpful and sincere. I quite liked most
people I encountered.
- I must mention Manuel at the Asiana. He was fabulous! Not only
a wonderful server but a team player as well. Our second dinner
there was a disaster! We waited for two hours before being served
and the meal was terrible! The place was half full at best so how
does it not lye with the chef? People were sending back their
meals throughout the evening. We mentioned this to Manuel and
he graciously insisted they were all at fault, being a team. That
simply wasn't the case here and we all new it. Our party agreed
to return a third time just because the first visit was good and
Manuel was fabulous. We are glad we did.
- 3 nice pools with cabana's galore.
- Great drinks.
- Grounds are clean and beautiful.
- Awesome dessert bar.

Con's - First night in we were put into a double room. Not what we
had booked. They did give us a new room after speaking to
the front desk.
- Our fridge was blowing hot air and it took 3 requests
and 3 days for anyone to change it.
- Both restaurants required reservation. If you were not there by
9am to reserve, forget it. They would not take it over the phone
either. Which is ridiculous. As mentioned in other reviews, the
tables were hardly full as if waiting for paying customers or
timeshare residents. There could be no other reason as I
witnessed this almost nightly. We purchased the all inclusive rate
versus hotel only.
- All inclusive was expensive! A whopping $525 per night.
- Beach is rocky, no swimming for us.
- Smoking only allowed on beach or in front of hotel. I think that's
great however on the beach there are no ashtrays or containers
to butt out. Being a courteous smoker I put mine in a trash bin
but many just throw on the ground or beach. If the front is the
only other smoking area, there should be some kind of seating
for those in need.
- Day two of housekeeping our fridge stopped being refilled.
- My biggest issues were with the front desk employees. They
were never smiling, except at check in. Being we were there 12
days my husband and I visited them 5 or 6 times (3 of them due
to fridge problem) and each time made us feel like we were
interrupting them. Not personable. Hardly approachable. Being
a business owner myself, I value front desk employees and
would suggest a complete revamp in this department.

As I said in the beginning, great place with some fixable problems!

Room Tip: Ocean view only.
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank sophieAbbotsford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Swan River, Canada
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed March 21, 2014

We were there with Silpada in January, and enjoyed it very much! Lobby, pool area and rooms were excellent. Food in buffets was very good, but fairly expensive. Beach and ocean were not very good, but pools made up for it. If you're beach/ocean people, this may not be for you. Language barrier was not a problem, in fact we viewed it as a positive to learn the bare basics of Spanish. Ate at the Steak House and had to send back a meal, but with no problems at all.

Room Tip: Ocean view is a must!
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank jetspackers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maria Gabriela U, Guest Relations Manager at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama, responded to this review, March 22, 2014
Thank you for taking the time to leave your comments regarding your recent visit. We always appreciate when our guests take the time to share their concerns with us so we can continue to improve our service.

Please do let us know when you want to plan your next trip to Panama. We would like to personalize each visit for you, making each stay with us even more enjoyable than the last.

Sincerely,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madison, nj
2 reviews
Reviewed March 21, 2014

If you come to the Westin- you must request Ari as your waiter...attentive, kind, helpful, great English but can also help you with your Spanish- try his recommendation- passion fruit mojito! Love Ari!!

  • Stayed March 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Hbaby1878
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maria Gabriela U, Guest Relations Manager at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama, responded to this review, March 22, 2014
Thank you for your wonderful remarks about our coworker Ari, your comment was already shared with him and we are sure that work to help keep always striving to provide the best service.

Sincerely,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Westin Playa Bonita Panama

Property: The Westin Playa Bonita Panama
Address: Road to Veracruz Km 6, Panama City, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Panama Province > Panama City
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Spa Hotel in Panama City
#9 Luxury Hotel in Panama City
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — The Westin Playa Bonita Panama 5*
Number of rooms: 611
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The personification of the destination: Where natural serenity meets industrial glamour - Westin Playa Bonita Panama is strategically located alongside the Pacific Ocean, on a mile long stretch of golden sand on Playa Bonita Beach, surrounded by lush tropical rainforests, and a quick 20-minute drive from the metropolitan capital of Panama City. Nestled alongside the stunning Pacific Ocean, The Westin Playa Bonita is near celebrated sites like the Panama Canal's Miraflores Locks and just a 20-minute drive from Panama City, the exhilarating capital of the Republic of Panama ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Westin Playa Bonita Panama Hotel Panama City
The Westin Playa Bonita Panama Panama City

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